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Another Lost Lion.

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Last week's phone consultation resulted in the unsurprising removal of the additional steroid load, replacing it with a different pharmaceutical product. Whether this will produce any perceived benefit I'll just have to wait and see, as somewhere downstream from the chatline experience I was prescribed the wrong stuff and “it'll take a day or so get get things sorted”. Not that I'm overly concerned. A combination of Covid-caused catatonia, no races to train for and June's November storms have removed any real desire to get out on the bike. Further forays into Wirksworth to uncover some more of its bygone boozers can wait until things dry up a bit. No point in pointlessly getting a wet bike or needlessly making it necessary to climb the hill to get out. So it's back to a bit of Norfolk nostalgia for this post. And speaking of hills...

Norfolk is not known for its hills, but Gorleston has four thoroughfares with 'hill' in their names. There's the totally flat Hill Avenue; South Icehouse Hill (which was the southerly route from the High Street down to the icehouse by the river); North Icehouse Hill (which was the – I reckon you might manage to work out where the rest of this sentence is going.) - only traversable on foot or downhill mountain bike; and Cliff Hill, which was the hill up to the...

There are essentially two ways of getting from the harbour's mouth area of Gorleston up to the top of the cliffs. The vehicular route would take you up Cliff Hill but, on foot, climbing the White Lion Steps would also get you there. If you managed to complete the above sentence relating to North Icehouse Hill you'll probably have worked out the name of the subject of this post too.

In existence by at least 1830, when it appears in Pigot & Co.'s directory with James Rivett, jun. in charge, the White Lion Inn stood on the corner of Cliff Hill and Upper Cliff Road. Strangely enough, opposite the White Lion Steps.

The original, pre-1897, White Lion Inn.

Originally owned by Gorleston's Bells Brewery it passed into the ownership of Steward & Patteson in 1865, during the tenancy of William Leggett, having been leased to them for the previous couple of decades. S&P rebuilt and enlarged the house in 1897 and the new building, with its location at the top of the steps, near Admiral Duncan's pump, seemed to attract the attention of numerous photographers and post card publishers of the day.

Gorleston did have other steps.

Colourisation was popular...

...but at times maybe went a little over the top.

Postcards were still popular in the latter part of the twentieth century, but most were produced by the proprietors to advertise their services.

The Thomas's ran the White Lion from 1969-71.

The aforementioned pump at the foot of the steps was sunk in 1797, under the orders of Admiral Duncan, to ease the task of revictualling the vessels of the navy which were frequently moored off Yarmouth harbour. The port was a strategic mooring during the conflicts with the Batavian (Dutch) fleet in the era of the Napoleonic Wars and it was whilst at Yarmouth that year that Duncan experienced a mutiny amongst the crew of all but two of his vessels. When I say mutiny it was more of a strike, with crew refusing to put to sea without an improvement in pay and conditions. All must've been sorted in the end for Duncan went on to truly sort the Dutch at the Battle of Camperdown on October 11th. A victory considered by some to be one of the greatest naval actions.

Returning to the White Lion, I only supped in it once. It was the summer of 1979 and a friend of a friend suggested that we all call in for a last drink before going to his abode on the cliffs for a coffee. I don't remember too much about the place for the coffee morphed into a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label, but I do recall watching the sun rise over the sea.

The pub had passed into the hands of Punch Taverns by 2004 and closed in 2008. It has since been converted into apartments.

The former White Lion in July 2019. ©2020 Google

The photograph of Admiral Duncan's pump is © Copyright Helen Steed and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Thanks to Russell Walker for the images of the black and white postcards.

If you've read this far, then thank you. Like me, you must have some sort of interest in bygone boozers. If you haven't done so already you can subscribe to ensure that you don't miss any future posts. Simply click here to return to the home page (opens in a new tab), follow the 'Subscribe' link and complete the form to receive an email notification of any future post. Or you could simply follow the link at the top of this page.

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